Department Of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010
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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I rise in opposition to the amendment authored by our chairman. I don't quarrel with many of the provisions of the Murtha amendment. He's absolutely right on in most regards. But, Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to remember one day, April 15, 1953. On that date is the last time a U.S. soldier, sailor or marine was killed by an attack from the air. It's nearly 60 years ago, during the Korean War.
Air dominance has been the game changer that has allowed our ground troops to execute their missions. We have air dominance today. Our job here is to make sure we have it tomorrow, and certainly the committee is going to do that. But air dominance is fragile and could slip away quickly. As we gather here today, the Russians are producing advanced fighter aircraft. We know that. The Chinese are apparently working to reverse engineer some of those advanced fighters for their own use, and we know certain countries are producing and selling very sophisticated air defense systems; more accurate, more lethal, more mobile, more difficult to neutralize than any systems our Air Force and Navy has ever faced. Hence, the need for the F-22.
The Air Force has 187 F-22 Raptors. It does not have 187 for combat deployment. We would like that to be the case. About 130 or so are ready, what we call combat coded with the full package, and they're ready for those missions. Approximately 60 are maintained, as I understand, for training and testing purposes.
And the question, of course, arises--and I support the F-25 Joint Strike Fighter. It's on its way, but when and how soon. The Joint Strike Fighter, as we know, is not the Raptor, doesn't have those capabilities. I think we need to keep the F-22 assembly line alive and warm. Once it's shut down, there is virtually no prospect that we can bring it back again. You can't flip the switch to bring the Raptor back into production.
So I rise in reluctant opposition to the amendment. I respect the chairman's desire to sort of keep the line open, have spare parts, but I do oppose the amendment.
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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. The motion to recommit would restore funding originally included in the bill as reported by the Appropriations Committee for advanced procurement for 12 F-22 aircraft and allow the program to move forward. It would also provide an additional $100 million for the Army military personnel accounts. These increases are offset by cutting $400 million in unrequested funds for the Presidential helicopter, a troubled program that the President himself has proposed to eliminate.
My motion to recommit is consistent with the recently passed Defense authorization bill which recognized the continued vital need for the F-22 by authorizing an additional F-22 aircraft and, at the same time, did not authorize additional funding for the President's helicopter.
Mr. Speaker, while much is made of the President's threatened veto of this bill over the F-22, the fact of the matter is the President has also threatened a veto over funding for the Presidential helicopter. While I appreciate the President has a role in this process, it is Congress, not the President, that has the power of the purse. I do not believe that we should simply take the President's budget proposal and rubber-stamp it.
In addition, my motion to recommit begins to fill a known funding shortfall in the Army military and personnel accounts that resulted from Secretary Gates' recent decision to increase the total Army end strength by 22,000 troops to support the administration's Afghanistan policy.
My motion would also leave intact the additional funds added in the Murtha amendment for four of the Air Force's unfunded priorities.
I urge my colleagues to support this motion to recommit.
I yield to the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Bishop), a member of the Armed Services Committee, for the remaining time.
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